Lawmakers seek details of lavish games spending

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am

Municipal lawmakers and political advisers attending high-level provincial meetings at the weekend said they would call for the full disclosure of financial details from the costly World University Games in August.

Several officials attending the Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress yesterday and Municipal Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Saturday sought the release of expenditure associated with the sport competition, also known as the Universiade.

The concerns stem from an August China Times report alleging that Shenzhen spent more than 300 billion yuan (HK$367 billion) on the games and related infrastructure upgrades, leaving it with a huge deficit, its first in two decades.

'I will put forward proposals to urge the authorities give out a timetable to answer the question,' said Jin Xinyi, a Shenzhen CPPCC deputy and also political analyst based in the city. 'There's no excuse for the authorities to keep it a mystery to the public.'

'Our neighbour, Hong Kong, held the East Asian Games in December 2009 and just four months later it had released details of the cost,' he said.

Wang Wenruo, a Shenzhen People's Congress deputy, said: 'It's about public money and taxpayers have a right to know every detail, regardless of whether they're from profits or a deficit.'

Jin and Wang said the government should show the city's total investment, not only for the operating budget of the games but also for games-related construction projects.

Mainland media reported last year that Shenzhen spent 75 billion yuan on five subway lines that it rushed to complete before the games to show off Shenzhen's efficiency and to have the lines ready for the games.

The city reportedly spent a further 12 billion yuan giving facelifts to 15,000 buildings along the city's 300 main roads, replacing the iron railings along roads to prevent reckless pedestrians from crossing, and renovating 25 main roads and tollbooths on 11 highways.

The games' bill also includes 4.1 billion yuan for the 60,000-seat outdoor World University Games Centre. Then there was the security cost - expected to be in the tens of millions of yuan - which focused in large part on preventing potential social unrest.

While authorities have kept silent on how much the Universiade cost, several groups have claimed that they were not paid salaries for games-related work they performed.

In October, more than 200 students from Guangzhou universities said that Shenzhen owed them 700 yuan each for their roles in the games.

On Saturday, Chen Yiwu, another CPPCC deputy, said thousands of migrants still had not been paid for their work on the games, The Southern Metropolis News reported.

Chen was quoted as saying that it was unfair for the government to put the burden on migrant workers.

'If the budget was tight, why did the municipal development and reform commission rush to launch the project last year?' he said.

2.2b yuan

Value, in yuan, of government bonds Shenzhen announced in November it would sell to fund infrastructure projects